Novel Problems

“Mama, I did it,” Micah said. He closed the door and dropped a pile of papers onto the kitchen table. “I finished my latest novel.   I brought you a copy.”

His mother came over and gave him a hug. “Micah, I am so proud of you! That was a lot of work.   I’ll start reading it tonight, and we can talk about it next week. Let me put it out of the way so that nothing will spill on it during dinner.”

A week later, Micah’s mother greeted him with a hug.   Then she narrowed her eyes.   “Micah, why did you give that awful character my name?”

“Mama, she’s a strong woman. I thought you’d be flattered,” Micah said.

“She’s always drinking, and it ruined her marriage.   I’ve never even tasted alcohol.”   Micah’s mother waved a finger at him.   “And take off your coat. You can’t eat dinner with your coat on.”

Micah began to unbutton his coat. “She raised her children on her own and they went on to do great things. And I said she was pretty. Just like you.”

Micah’s mother rolled her eyes. “She burned her own house down.”

Micah put his coat on the back of a chair and gave his mother another hug. “Mama, don’t be like that. She didn’t do it on purpose. And it doesn’t really matter. No one is going to publish it anyways. It will come right back. They always do.” He sighed.

“Oh Micah, someday you will write a bestseller, and everyone will want to read it.” She patted his back and smiled. “It just better not be that one. Now go hang up your coat in the closet, and I’ll start putting dinner on the table.”

“I love you, mama.” Micah picked up his coat.

“I love you too, Micah.”

A year later, the novel had not only been published, it was doing remarkably well. Which was occasionally unfortunate. Micah came late to family dinner one week after an interview went longer than expected.

“I’m here, mama. I brought you flowers,” Micah said.

“I made noodle soup,” his mother said, “and it’s cold.”

“I’m sorry,” Micah said. “Shall I put the flowers in a vase?”

“I’ll do it. Thank you, Micah. Take off your coat.” Micah’s mother took a vase from the cupboard and started filling it with water.

Micah took his coat off and put it on the back of a chair. “How did your week go?”

“I had another friend ask me about my drinking problem, Micah.” She put the flowers in the vase and set them in the middle of the table. “She asked how many years I’d been sober.”

“At least she doesn’t think you’re still drinking, right?” Micah laughed a little, nervous laugh.

“Micah! I’ve never even tasted alcohol. And hang your coat up in the closet.” Micah’s mother turned the stove back on.   “I’ll heat up the soup.”

“Just tell them it’s fiction, and it has nothing to do with you,” Micah said. He picked up his coat.

“It doesn’t matter. They don’t believe me.”   She smiled. “It’s all right Micah.   I’m proud of you and how successful you are. I always knew you’d do well.”

“I love you, mama,” Micah said.

“I love you too, Micah.”

Five years later, Micah had published two more novels.   He started another round of interviews.   The latest one was running a little long.

“Last question,” the interviewer said. “I read your first novel and it’s stunning.   What was it like growing up with an alcoholic mother?”

Micah laughed. “It’s fiction. It’s not about me. My mother has never even tasted alcohol. She’s a wonderful mother. I love her, and she loves me.”

“Then why did you name the character after your mother?” The interviewer asked.

“Because my mother has a beautiful name,” Micah said.